A raped woman or girl was less valuable as property, and penalties for rape often involved fines or other compensation paid to her husband or father (Burgess-Jackson 1996, 68).
The marital rape exemption in law, which survived in the U. into the 1990's, is clearly a remnant of this approach, assuming as it does that no crime is committed when a man forces intercourse upon his wife, since she is his own property; the property status of enslaved African-American women was also thought to entitle their owners to the women's unrestricted sexual use.
Sadly, the rate of rape reporting remains low; studies using random sample surveys of large numbers of women find reporting rates ranging from 16% to 36% (Anderson 2003, 78). states have succeeded not only in changing legal definitions of rape (see below), but also in ending many damaging and sexist practices in rape trials.
Rates of conviction, too, remain substantially lower than for other violent crimes; some studies estimate a conviction rate of 5% (Caringella 2008) in the U. Feminists' recognition of the severity and pervasiveness of rape's harms, and of how infrequently victims receive justice, has inspired decades of activism for social and legal change. For instance, “rape shield” laws now restrict the admissibility of evidence about a victim's sexual history, and most jurisdictions have eliminated the “prompt reporting” requirement, the corroboration requirement, and the reciting of the traditional “cautionary rule” (that rape is a charge easy to make and hard to disprove).
Liberal views tend to regard rape as a gender-neutral assault on individual autonomy, likening it to other forms of assault and/or illegitimate appropriation, and focusing primarily on the harm that rape does to individual victims.Feminist thought and activism have challenged the myth that rape is rare and exceptional, showing that it is in fact a common experience in the lives of girls and women.In recent decades, this awareness emerged in feminist “speakouts” and consciousness-raising groups, where women shared their experiences of rape and other forms of abuse.Indeed, many women suffer multiple rapes in their lives: in the same earlier study, among those who reported having been raped in the past year, the average number of rapes per woman during that time period was 2.9.An accurate estimate of rape's frequency requires a clear understanding of rape itself and of the varied circumstances in which it occurs.It has now been amply confirmed by research: according to one study of over 16,000 Americans, 18.3% of women report having been victims of rape or attempted rape at some time in their lives (Black et al., 2011).